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A Slam Dunk

Honoring a Family’s Passion for Basketball and Boston College

Karen Izzi Bristing
Karen Izzi Bristing ’84, P’17 (far right), her mother Elizabeth, father Clement, and son Andrew Gross ’17, on center court in Conte Forum, where they were honored just before a BC men’s basketball game.

In the middle of March 1981, Karen Izzi Bristing sat in a dining hall on Newton Campus reading Boston Globe coverage of the BC men’s basketball team and their thrilling run through the NCAA tournament.

A no. 5 seed, the Eagles had just won two close games in Alabama, and their next contest, she read, would be against St. Joseph’s in Bloomington, Ind.—nearly 1,000 miles away from Chestnut Hill.

A lifelong basketball fan, Bristing was swept up in the euphoria. It was her first year at college, and her team was playing in the Sweet Sixteen. She immediately called her father, who shared her passion and knew more about basketball than anyone she knew.

“I told him I wanted to go to Indiana and watch the game,” remembers Bristing, “and he encouraged me right away. He made sure I recruited some friends to go with me—and even drove down to campus so we could take his car. I’m not sure who was more excited for the trip, me or my dad!”

Although the Eagles lost, Bristing and her friends still reminisce about that road trip, calling it a seminal moment that helped cement their friendship and their love for BC athletics.

Now a Trustee whose son is a rising junior at the Heights, Bristing continues to root for the Eagles and still calls her dad to pore over the team’s highs and lows. When presented with the opportunity last year to endow the head men’s basketball coaching position, she thought back—not only to that road trip but also to the many moments she shared with her father, bonding over his favorite sport.

“I really feel like athletics helps bring people together,” says Bristing. “I have so many fond memories of spending time with my dad either watching or talking about basketball, so when I had the chance to endow this position and name it after him and my mother, it was an easy decision to make.”

Rappaport Fellows
Jim Christian, the Clement and Elizabeth Izzi Family Men’s Head Basketball Coach

Her gift to establish the Clement and Elizabeth Izzi Family Men’s Head Basketball Coach is the largest ever made to the men’s basketball program and one of several athletic staff positions to be endowed during the Light the World campaign, includingthe athletic director and the head men’s ice hockey coach.

In addition to honoring her father she views the endowment as a statement that BC supports its basketball program and new head coach, Jim Christian.

“I love his attitude and work ethic,” says Bristing. “I remember talking with my dad about the way Coach Christian interacts with the athletes. He’s a great teacher and a true role model.”

Standing with her family at center court in Conte Forum as the endowment was officially announced last December, Bristing said she felt the familiar rush of excitement caused by BC basketball.

“It was a little surreal,” remembers Bristing. “I hope this gift helps our team get back in the NCAA tournament and creates that buzz on campus again. I want my son to call me and tell me he’s taking a road trip of his own. And I’d love to go again too!” 

Boston College Alumni and Friends